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The music video for Britney Spears‘ song “Criminal” is online nearly a month after it was criticized by London authorities for its violent content.
In addition to scenes of Spears holding up a store, the five-minute, 22-second production shows her naked in a shower with real-life boyfriend Jason Trawick and being physically abused by another man.
The video opens with a party scene in which a decked out Spears looks around the room and is scolded by her British date (Freddy Bradshaw), “Can you just try smiling once? It’s embarrassing. You look like you’re at a funeral. Why don’t we see that pretty little face of yours? Huh? Huh?”
She turns away, angering him. He grabs her by the face and says, “Oy, when I’m talking to you, look me in the face and don’t disrespect me.”
She takes off to the bathroom to compose herself but returns to see her date flirting with another woman. She interrupts, telling the woman it looks like she had a night off the street corner, after which her date takes her outside and hits her in the face for “disrespecting” him again.
A leather jacket-wearing man (Trawick) comes to her rescue and beats her date down. He asks her if she’s okay and to which she kicks her date — who’s writhing on the ground — in the groin and says, “Now I’m okay.”
The actual song kicks in at this point, with Spears riding through London on her savior’s motorcycle. Chris Marrs Piliero directed the piece, which shows the new couple in bed, toting guns, and making out while police open fire on their love nest.
Spears receives a “story by” credit at the end of the video.
The video angered members of the local council of the London borough where it was shot, as the city continues to deal with the aftermath of its August riots. The Hackney Council said in a statement: “It’s images like this, with pop stars glamorizing gangs, which means that some young people… get drawn in.”
Though council Member Ian Rathbone suggested that Spears should apologize and “make a sizable donation to a Hackney charity that deals with young people,” Spears’ team was unapologetic about their creative decisions.
“The video is a fantasy story featuring Britney’s boyfriend, Jason Trawick, which literally plays out the lyrics of a song written three years before the riots ever happened,” said a statement by her team.
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